A November, 2011 eMarketer study found that two-thirds of B2B executives view social media as an extremely important or very important marketing channel, but only 7 percent are using social media as part of their marketing strategy. When asked what changes needed to be made for their social media efforts to be more effective, the majority said they needed new technology and new tools as well as increased cross-organizational collaboration.
I disagree. The truth behind social media adoption in B2B organizations has more to do with fundamental flaws in the way they practice marketing than in technology or cross-organizational collaboration.
Social media marketing doesn’t leave much room for sloppy marketing. It requires a tight marketing message and selling proposition, a firm knowledge and understanding of who your ideal customer is and what’s important to them and finally, it requires a sales and marketing system that attracts these prospects and turns them into loyal, happy customers.
Check to see if you’re following these marketing fundamentals and then apply them to your social media strategy for powerful results.
Develop a simple customer-focused marketing message
Because applications like Facebook and Twitter are conversational platforms, it helps to have a marketing message that is customer focused so that you have something to talk about with your audience.
Take a look at your website and your marketing materials:
- Are your marketing materials more focused on things rather than people?
- How often do you use the word “we” in your marketing communications?
- Do you have lists of features that aren’t connected to specific customer needs?
To generate a customer-based marketing message, think of one of your customers—a real person, not a company. Now put yourself in their shoes when they are thinking about buying what you are selling.
- What event triggered them to think about you?
- Why did they think of YOUR company instead of someone else?
- What’s been their experience with alternatives?
- Why should they buy from you instead of someone else?
The answers to these questions will create a story centered around your customer with your B2B company, product or service as the hero. And this makes for more effective social media marketing.
Profile your customer and your social media audience
Without a targeted customer profile, it’s going to be hard to figure out who to follow on Twitter or what groups to join on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Don’t just talk about companies and industries–focus on the people that you interact with:
- What college did they go to?
- What did they major in or study?
- What professional sports teams do they follow?
- What hobbies do they have?
- What are their personal or professional goals?
- What professional organizations do they belong to?
- Are they engineers or product managers?
- What business goals are they trying to achieve?
It’s these personal tidbits of information that will help you to connect with the right social media groups and sites. Now you can join the same groups that these people join on Facebook or LinkedIn and have deeper interactions with them. No matter what the product or the industry, B2B customers want their suppliers to understand what’s important to them and deliver.
Create 10 talking points
A common mistake that B2B companies make is getting lost in the technical details of their product. My advice is to create an article called “The Top 10 Reasons to Buy From Us” and list those reasons from the customer’s perspective. Why would your customer say they chose to buy from you? What does your product or service allow them to do that they couldn’t do before?
Use these 10 talking points in blog posts, LinkedIn conversations and Twitter conversations.
Invite customers to participate in social media spaces
Think of social media like a party—no one will come if you don’t invite them. What’s the point of creating a Facebook fan page if no one is there. And guess what? No one will be there if you don’t invite them. Create special Facebook events that will only take place on your fan page. A popular thing to do is run Q&A sessions about your products or services. Say that you’ll have an expert available to answer customer questions.
Tweet Chats are a terrific way to interact with customers. Offer to help them create Twitter profiles and then have tweet chats on specific topics. Your customers will appreciate the ability to network and get to know other participants in the industry and you will be the expert and a valuable resource.
Create a sales and marketing process that consistently attracts and feeds process into your sales funnel
You’ll never have evidence of whether social media is working if you don’t have a funnel to grab the leads you generate from your social media interactions. Create landing pages with free downloads of reports, white papers, videos or ecourses that your customers will value.
Most B2B companies haphazardly participate in social media but have no place to send people or grab those leads. Create landing pages with useful and informative information that your social media contacts will value and pass on to their contacts.
You can’t get marketing benefits without practicing marketing
There is a misconception about what marketing is in the B2B space. Many B2B companies feel that marketing is predominantly a promotional or advertising activity. Effective marketing lies in understanding who your ideal customer is, what’s important to them and then providing them a solution. Social media is nothing more than a communication channel where these conversations happen.
So if you’re a B2B company wondering why social media isn’t working for you—tighten up your marketing message and the rest will come.